Ready to ride the milk round?

This week’s exam results are good news for the marketing industry. Behind the headlines about the growing pass rate there is a hidden trend that could yield a really important human resource for this industry. Mathematics, long a subject experiencing a decline in graduate numbers, has seen a surge in both GCSE passes and higher education applications.

Graduate recruitment opportunities may not be that extensive in your organisation at the moment. Look three years ahead and you may be planning for an increase in headcount, however. And if your business is using more evidence-based decision making, especially for marketing, then you may be looking to take on more analytics and insight resource.

In that scenario, the need to have numerate, skilled practitioners working in the marketing department will coincide with a large pool of qualified graduates. Good news for the future of data-driven activity (and for the individuals finding new jobs).

If the public sector is still in the middle of the five-year austerity cuts programme, then a significant shift in the employment market might result. Historically, statistics and maths graduates have been snapped up by defence and Government, with the rest finding jobs in pharmaceutical research or actuarial positions. Compared to the dynamism (and uncertainty) of the marketing industry, those have looked like good, steady career options with clear hierarchies and promotion paths.

With many of these classic employers likely to be out of the recruitment cycle, the marketing industry could move in and achieve a major overhaul in its own skills base. What better for the data-saturated, digital world than to have a new generation of mathematically-minded graduates planning, driving and measuring its marketing activity?

So who is likely to be out there banging the drum? At this distance it is a little hard to predict, although Google and other social networks could be at the forefront of bringing in these new graduates. Alongside them, we need to see some of the classic data-driven brands explaining why marketing offers a career every bit as rich and rewarding as writing algorithms for search engines.

Data has still to work out its allure as an industry, even with the wide spectrum of exciting companies it can point to as leading practitioners. There is plenty of time to plan a concerted effort. The good news is that those maths students about to start their courses have not even begun to think about careers and will not be going anywhere else in a hurry.

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